How to choose the right Managed Service Provider (MSP), for your business
This is the first of a 2-part series. It is intended to help you better understand your business requirements when searching for Managed IT Service Providers. Part 2: “How To Evaluate Managed IT Services Providers” will follow this article. Subscribe to our blog to be notified when it goes live!
There are many MSP options available. However, deciding which one is best for your business and technology needs can be difficult. While it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the options, don’t let that stop you from considering all of your options.
This article was written to assist you in your search so that you can:
Ask more questions of your MSP interviewees and assess your business environment to get a better idea of the type of MSP that will help you achieve your goals. Let’s get started.
This question can be answered by starting with what you already know: your business. We have learned over the past 25 years that every business has unique IT needs. Although there are many variables, the most important ones can be summarized as follows:
Number of employees and their job functions.Number of locations.Growth plans.Current IT maturity.Scope of services. Let’s take a closer look at each to help you assess your needs.
Your Number of Employees and Their Job Functions
The more complex and sophisticated your IT requirements will be, the bigger and more distributed your company. Our company, IE, organizes businesses by the number of employees. This is similar to most IT industries. Your needs will be very different if you have only one to ten employees than if you have thousands. Consider your current number of employees and your projected 3-year growth when you are looking into MSPs. These estimates are usually provided by senior leadership and human resources.
Your Number of Locations (and their Time Zones for Operation)
Note the number and type of employees when you are logging the locations. You should identify “knowledge workers”, which is IT parlance, workers whose primary function involves the use of a computer or phone. This is an important metric MSPs use in determining the level of support required for employees. It is also useful to know the hours of operation at each location, by employee type, and in which time zones. If your headquarters is located on the East Coast, but your distribution center is on the West Coast, it’s important to know how many knowledge workers work at the distribution center, and how long they work, in comparison to warehouse employees.
The industry you operate in
Your IT needs can be affected by the industry you work in. Manufacturing companies might employ a smaller percentage of knowledge workers than total workers. Shop floor machinery may not have computer control, which reduces the need for security and network connectivity. Due to the nature and importance of their work, R&D, financial services and health insurance businesses will have greater requirements.
Your Growth Plans
After you have gathered the information above, you can analyze the projected growth and ask these questions:
Is your business strategy to grow organically. If so, how much? How many employees will you require? Are the new employees knowledge workers? Where will they be located? Will you hire them all at once? Although projections are subject to change, it is important to be as exact as possible in order to help you choose the best MSP and structure your agreement to determine cost over the term with the flexibility of changing if necessary.
Mergers and Acquisitions is another area of growth. These deals are often kept secret until they’re complete, making it difficult for forecasters to predict the outcome. However, senior leadership usually outlines their overall growth strategy. You should ensure that your MSP and the resulting agreement include a strategy to scale up and down to meet your business’s needs.
Your IT maturity
It can be difficult for both IT professionals and non-IT pros to gauge IT maturity. People assume that if things go well, their IT department is mature. If things don’t, they know the answer. IT maturity can be measured and quantified. The IT maturity model measures the IT organization’s ability to implement and follow all IT policies. This is important as IT organizations that are more mature are better equipped to prevent problems and respond quickly and efficiently to high-priority events that could negatively impact the business. It is crucial to understand the business impact before you make investments in IT. Many companies, including Internetwork Engineering offer Business Impact Analysis consulting.
High-priority events have business impact and are classified as P1 (Priority 1). These questions will help you determine IT maturity for P1 events.
It might seem difficult to gauge IT maturity, but it is possible.